The frontal lobe is the largest part of the brain and it is responsible for controlling a variety of physiological functions. Frontal lobe damage can affect a person’s ability to control hand-eye coordination, emotions, motor skills, conscious thought, and personality. Frontal lobe injuries can be devastating and have an effect on every aspect of a person’s life.
Function of the Frontal Lobe
When there is a strike against the head, the frontal lobes can ricochet off the skull. It’s easy for the impact to cause an injury because the brain is made of soft tissue that is easily damaged.
Frontal lobe injuries are the most common type of brain injury. Damage can create changes in personality, limit facial expression, and make it difficult for a person to interpret his or her environment. The front of the brain is responsible for “higher” functions, such as planning, decision making, and judgment. This means an injury can trigger indecisiveness or apathy, or trouble initiating activity.
This area of the brain also regulates, checks, and inhibits emotions and actions, and when injured, can cause a person to be impulsive, moody, agitated, easily irritable, explosive, or a poor decision maker. There is also an increased risk for someone with frontal lobe damage to become a substance abuser. It can be challenging for a person with frontal lobe damage to adequately assess risk and danger. Frontal lobe injuries can also interfere with speech, decision making, problem solving, and sexual and social behavior.
The frontal lobe features both left and right sides, each of which has its own unique set of functions. The left lobe is associated with language ability and logical thinking capabilities. The right lobe is associated with the non-verbal aspects of communication, and the creative and artistic capacity of the human mind. The right lobe is also the perceptive side of the brain and helps to distinguish auditory signs of communication. People with frontal lobe injuries might have a difficult time detecting variations in another person’s tone of voice.
What Causes Frontal Lobe Injuries?
Most frontal lobe injuries are caused by blunt force trauma. This can occur as the result of a fall, an automobile crash, violence, or collision injury. It’s possible to reduce your risk for frontal lobe injuries by wearing a seatbelt when in a moving vehicle, using handrails and avoiding slippery or poorly lit areas, and wearing protective gear when participating in sports and other recreation activities. Like most injuries, there is no way to completely eliminate your risk for frontal lobe injuries.
How Frontal Lobe Injuries Impact a Person’s Life
The impact of a frontal lobe injury on a person’s life will depend on the severity of the injury. A person’s cognitive ability prior to an injury can also play a role. In most cases, if a frontal lobe injury is suspected or known, doctors will conduct a comprehensive assessment of the damage. This includes a neuropsychological evaluation that evaluates social behavior, motor skills, speech, impulse control, spontaneity, memory, problem solving, language, and other factors.
Treatment decisions are made based on the symptoms a frontal lobe injury triggers. For instance, if a person has trouble with memory, but not with speech, he or she will participate in therapy to improve memory but likely forego speech therapy. Physical and occupational therapy are important cornerstones of motor symptom management for those with frontal lobe injuries. Some people need ongoing supervision if a frontal lobe injury has affected their impulse control.
Experimental Treatment for Frontal Lobe Injuries
There is growing evidence treatment for Attention Deficit and Hyperactivity Disorder might be effective for helping those with frontal lobe injuries. People with ADHD experience symptoms similar to those of front lobe injuries, such as issues with focus and concentration, impulsiveness, and poor decision making. Ritalin is used to treat ADHD by stimulating the frontal lobe and increasing a person’s ability to regulate and control impulsive and inappropriate behavior, while also enhancing his or her planning and decision making ability – all things that are factors in frontal lobe injuries. A study is currently underway at the University of Washington to determine if Ritalin improves short term memory in people with memory impairment.
If you or a loved one suffered a frontal lobe injury as the result of a car accident, injury, or other event that was due to someone else’s negligence, you could be eligible for compensation. We want to help frontal lobe injury victims understand their situation and make the best possible decisions for their future.